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Letters to the 107th Congress

February 15, 2001

Honorable Judith B. Biggert
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Biggert:

I write on behalf of the American Bar Association to express our wholehearted support for H.R. 570, legislation to repeal the requirement relating to specific statutory authorization for increases in judicial salaries, provide for automatic, annual increases in judicial salaries, and restore their lost compensation due to inflation by increasing judicial salaries by 9.6%. We applaud your efforts and agree completely that the legislation is essential to maintaining a strong and independent judiciary.

Federal judges have received only three of nine possible cost-of-living adjustments since 1993, causing a 13.4% decline in their purchasing power. Persistent salary erosion has deprived judges (many of whom accepted significantly reduced compensation to become a judge) of the prospect of salary stability during their tenure on the bench.

While we are indeed fortunate to have the high quality of judges we now have on the Federal bench, concern in the legal community is mounting that the current salaries of Federal judges have reached such levels of inadequacy that they threaten to impair the quality and independence of the Third Branch. As a result, the ABA recently collaborated with the Federal Bar Association on a report documenting the critical need for Federal judicial pay reform. Many of the recommendations in the report, which was released earlier this week in connection with its presentation to the Chief Justice of the United States, would be implemented by passage of your bill.

The temptation is great to deal with the problems that undermine the adequacy of judicial pay on a temporary basis. However, good government and prudent financial policy demand complete and prompt resolution of the matter. The failure to provide adequate and fair judicial compensation threatens to undermine the efficient, productive and effective management of judicial resources and the public's confidence in our judicial system.

H.R. 570 proposes significant and necessary changes. We commend your leadership and offer our assistance as you seek passage of this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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